So it’s thanksgiving time again. Repay your debts.
So this is what I do for a living. Besides advising an occasional startup and mostly expansion stage businesses on their organic / inorganic growth alternatives, what I love most is my proprietary and commissioned research on grossly undervalued companies. For my clients in the PE/VC/I-banking/Strategic investors circle, what I do saves a lot of random research and early due diligence. The deal is pretty straight, they pay me only if they bite. I am ok with that since that makes me one of a kind, erects a high enough entry barrier for competition that looks for its nickel from the word go.
The process of research is indeed exhausting but is illustrative to sustain my interest. In some cases the value that underlies some businesses is so huge that you would really wonder why they aren’t growing. Then I talk to their customers, suppliers and even its employees to get the picture. But I still won’t call my task complete, until I talk to the managements to get a hang of things. I find my way to the top without much difficulty since it is in their interest that their business gets maximum visibility besides an objective coverage. A lot of these companies have fascinating stories attached – the earnings could be doubling next year or that the land value is three times the market cap.
First I was a bit unsure to approach managements. Will they drop their guards? How much will I have to discount from what they say? How do I phrase my questions to get what I want? These were concerns at the beginning, but then after a couple of lively exchanges, I found they do ease up. People do talk if you look in their eye and ask straight questions. I can do that easily because I tell them what I am up to when I ask for their time. Some of them liked my approach so much that they offered me a job right away to fix their corporate planning department, to design systems and lay down processes. I just smile and tell them they’ll have to first stock up on their pink-slips. I am so sold on direct, in-the-face, break-all-rules-but-get-results approach that I’ll corrupt an otherwise compliant organization. Darn, aggression in right doses works, yields results…!
I use blogs, email, internet and scour every piece of news on the company, research reports and back check every piece of information with its source as well as others-in-the-know before I sit down to compile. Several drafts and so many sleepless nights later, my output is graven in my mind and I tell the client “this looks like it, let’s talk…” Then we go through the motions, client’s due diligence follows and if they bite, checks get cut.
As I look back, it’s like a dream. But I do wonder, what would I’ve done for a living had technology not developed as it has today? Would I’ve settled for anything less exciting? I doubt.
So who all should I be thanking…?